Month: April 2017

Club Welcomes Coo Park United AFC

Shire are delighted to be welcoming players and coaches from Coo Park United AFC  to Saturday’s final Lowland League game of the season against East Kilbride at Ochilview.

It’s sure to be a special day out for the young players who are to enjoy a VIP Hospitality afternoon with us. It’ll be a lot more than simply a pre-match lunch a chance to watch Shire in action – there’s a whole day of fun activity in the offing.

Some of the highlights include helping set up the home changing room prior to the arrival of the Shire players, the chance to have their photo taken with the SPFL trophies, and leading the Shire players out on to the pitch as mascots before the action starts at three o’clock.

There’s also going to be a mystery special guest to act as their host for the day. The players will also receive their own Shire jerseys.

It’s all part of the club’s commitment to community activity in the local area and the involvement of Coo Park United AFC  could not be more appropriate as the club is based in the same Bainsford community that gave birth to Shire in 1880.

The club was formed in 2015 and gives the chance to more than 60 youngsters aged 3 to 12 from Bainsford and Langlees to participate in football and fitness activities.

We hope everyone from Coo Park AFC  has a fun time on Saturday.

Andy Gets His Reward

Well done to Shire striker Andy Rodgers as he picked up his Ladbrokes Shire March Player of the Month award at the weekend.

Shire fan Emily Reynolds was on hand to present Andy with his trophy prior to the start of Saturday’s penultimate Lowland League match of the season at Dalbeattie Star.

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Andy topped our fans’ Twitter poll ahead of fellow striker David Grant, club captain Derek Ure and Graeme MacGregor, all four of whom were picked out by head coach John Sludden as the top performers in March.

The eventual winner’s individual performances in March helped swing the vote his way – Andy scored five goals in three matches played during the month – two in the 3-3 draw at Cumbernauld Colts, the second in the 3-2 cup win over Tynecastle, and a double in the 4-2 away victory at Hawick Royal Albert.

There will, of course, be an April award with coach John Sludden making his nominations after Shire have completed the fixtures with Saturday’s home game against East Kilbride and the following week’s League Cup visit to Selkirk.

Once those games are out of the way fans will be invited to choose an overall winner via our Twitter poll, so please look out for that and get voting.

Final Visitors Are, “Worthy Champs”

Coach John Sludden says this weekend’s final Lowland League opponents of the season, East Kilbride, are “worthy champions” but he would still like to beat them when they come to Ochilview on Saturday.

East Kilbride clinched the title almost three weeks ago after a superb run of results and were presented with the championship trophy at last weekend’s 2-0 victory over Spartans.

John did not hide the disappointment that his team had missed out on a goal he had set the players in the summer, but praised East Kilbride for their achievement. They will now go into the pyramid play-off against the winners of the Highland League.

Photo : Alan Murray, Falkirk Herald
Photo : Alan Murray, Falkirk Herald

“They are worthy champions,” said John. “They had a fantastic start. It doesn’t matter what level you play at it was a great run and it set them up for the season and they just continued on from there.

“They were very consistent throughout the season and it was very hard for the rest of us to try and catch up. During the course of the season you maybe expect teams will have a wee dip but they didn’t and they are worthy champions.”

Nevertheless, John says he believes his players have what it takes to challenge East Kilbride in this weekend’s league curtain call. He says it’s right to expect his team to want to challenge themselves against the best.

“I think we have a wee incentive to do well,” he said. “It would be good for the confidence if we were to get a result against the league champions, especially going into the League Cup so that’s what we are all aiming for.

“There’s nothing at stake I suppose but it does get you three more points but it means no more than that.”

Photo : Alan, Murray, Falkirk Herald.
Photo : Alan, Murray, Falkirk Herald.

He is keen to get back to winning ways. Shire have now gone back-to-back matches without a victory for the first time since October after Saturday’s away draw at Dalbeattie was preceded by the disappointing cup defeat at the hands of Cumbernauld Colts.

John understands the importance of not letting that negative run go any further, although he accepted that the Dalbeattie scoreline probably reflected the state of the game quite well.

“A draw was a fair result,” said the coach. “Although the boys showed a good togetherness in coming back from 2-0 down to draw level and then create chances to go ahead. But it just wasn’t to be.”

One handicap for Saturday’s East Kilbride game will be the absence of club captain Derek Ure through suspension. He was sent-off close to the end of the Dalbeattie game and has been given a two game ban as a consequence.

“It was a soft sending-off and he is a very important player for us,” said the head coach. “However, it sends out a message to the other guys that here is a chance for you to come in and stake a claim.

“It’s happened before over the course of a season and we will be looking for guys who are thinking this could be my chance.”

The coach also revealed he will give Liam Allison every chance to prove his fitness ahead of the East Kilbride clash. The utility player lasted just 28 minutes at Dalbeattie before pulling up with a leg knock.

He has been receiving treatment and a decision on whether or not he will be part of the squad will be made much closer to Saturday’s kick-off time.

Ure Out For Two Games

Shire’s end-of-season has been dealt a blow after club captain Derek Ure was given a two game suspension following his red card in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Dalbeattie Star.

It means the skipper will miss this weekend’s last Lowland League game of the season when Shire host champions-elect East Kilbride at Ochilview and he will also be out of the following week’s Lowland League Cup match at Selkirk.

Derek was sent-off quarter of an hour before the end of the game at Islecroft Stadium, his second dismissal this season.

“I’ve watched it again and I think the sending-off was soft,” was coach John Sludden’s response.

“It’s disappointing to have such an important player out for these games,” said John. “But it does offer someone else the chance to work hard in training this week and impress us enough to include them.”

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Come And Show Your Support

Everyone with the Shire at heart is being urged to come to Ochilview on Saturday for the club’s final home game of the season as the team takes on champions-elect East Kilbride (3:00pm).

It’s a great opportunity to show your appreciation for what has been a fanbtastic effort from coach John Sludden and the players this term.

There have been some great memories to look back on and there can be little doubt that having scored more than 120 goals over the course of the season, Shire have been THE team to watch.

Saturday’s game will close out the 2016/17 Lowland League season and the players will be aiming to finish off with a victory.

Please come if you are able to give the team a big thank you for their efforts over the entire campaign.

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Dalbeattie Star Preview

Shire will travel to Dalbeattie Star’s Islecroft Stadium for the penultimate Lowland League match determined to round off the season on a high note.

Coach John Sludden is hoping to take a full squad south for the club’s first visit to Dalbeattie since a 2-1 Scottish Cup victory there in 1998/99 season, and also with the hope of extending an unbeaten run in league matches to seven games.

It will be the team’s first outing since the disappointing 3-2 defeat in the semi-final of the SFA South Region Challenge Cup against Cumbernauld Colts and the coach wants to see a positive reaction to that reverse.

“There is still plenty to play for,” he said. “We want to end the league on a high and win our last two games which should get us in the right frame of mind for the one cup left,” he said. Shire will enter the first round of the Lowland League Cup with an away tie at Selkirk once the league season is over on 29th April.

The team’s last league outing was a convincing 7-1 away win against Preston Athletic on 1st April, a result which combined with others elsewhere confirmed that Shire would end the season in second place.

The aim now is to close the final gap to champions-elect East Kilbride to as few points as possible, although the coach understands that the game against Dalbeattie Star will be far from straightforward for his team.

“Every game is tough in this league,” said John. “Even now every team we play still wants to beat us simply because of where we have come from.”

It was certainly tough for Shire in the reverse fixture against this weekend’s opponents. It required a goal from Connor Greene deep into injury-time at the end of the 90 minutes to snatch a 2-1 victory in one of the closest, and most keenly-contested matches they have played at Ochilview this season.

Star have not played a competitive game since 25th March but they have been keeping up to speed with some friendly games and recently competed well against promotion-chasing SPFL League 2 side Annan Athletic before going down to a 2-0 defeat.

They should have two of their top players, Iain Anderson, who has scored eight times this season, and Lewis Sloan, available this time around – both men missed out on the Ochilview clash in November – and they will be a much tougher proposition on their home turf.

Dalbeattie will also have a cause to play for. They still have an outside shot of making fourth place at season’s end which would guarantee a place in next season’s IRN-BRU Cup but need to end with a couple of wins to even have a chance of unseating Stirling University.

It all promises to provide a great afternoon’s action. Shire will wear their change yellow and blue colours for the game which will be refereed by Craig King. The coaches and players would love to see as many Shire fans as possible make the trip to Dumfriesshire, contact Sandy Nimmo on 07803 708119 for details of supporter transport.

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Think Of A Number

Shire’s goal scoring exploits have been well-documented this season both for team goals and individual players too, but we have uncovered one very unusual fact from the hundred goal plus season.

In at least one competitive match this season Shire have scored every number of goals from zero to ten.

There have been seven matches where we have failed to find the back of the net while at Gala Fairydean Rovers on 3rd December the team hit their highest single-game tally of ten and, in between, we have scored all the other numbers too.

The missing link came at Preston Athletic’s Pennypit Park on 25th March when Shire hit seven in a match for the one-and-only time. It completed a remarkable statistical oddity which cannot have been been repeated on too many previous occasions by a Scottish senior club.

For the record, we have listed below the number of goals we have scored in competitive matches and also the number of times we have scored every number between zero and ten.

0 Goals – Rangers (h), Motherwell (a), Annan Athletic (h), Montrose (h), East Kilbride (a), Spartans (a), Annan Athletic (a). 7 Matches.

1 Goal – Stranraer (a), Annan Athletic (h), Edinburgh University (h), Edinburgh University (a), Spartans (h). 5 Matches.

2 Goals – Vale of Leithen (h), Dalbeattie Star (h), Stirling University (a), Cumbernauld Colts (h). 4 Matches.

3 Goals – Hawick Royal Albert (h), Cumbernauld Colts (h), BSC Glasgow (h), Mid Annandale (a), Civil Service Strollers (h), Gretna 2008 (a), Whitehill Welfare (h), Gala Fairydean Rovers (h), Cumbernauld Colts (a), Tynecastle (h). 10 Matches.

4 Goals – Selkirk (a), Stirling University (h), Vale of Leithen (a), Hawick Royal Albert (a). 4 Matches.

5 Goals – Whitehill Welfare (a), Gretna 2008 (h), Selkirk (h). 3 Matches.

6 Goals – Preston Athletic (h), BSC Glasgow (a). 2 Matches.

7 Goals – Preston Athletic (a). 1 Match.

8 Goals – Civil Service Strollers (a). 1 Match.

9 Goals – Newton Stewart (h). 1 Match.

10 Goals – Gala Fairydean Rovers (a). 1 Match.

 

Lowland League Cup Draw Made

The organisers have drawn this season’s Lowland League Cup have made the draw all the way through to the final.

With each round of the competition being played on successive weekends in May the Lowland League says  making the draw in advance helps teams to plan better.

Shire have already been drawn to face Selkirk at Yarrow Park on Saturday 29th April in the first round. The winners of that game will travel to face the winners of the East Kilbride versus Spartans game, with the second round scheduled for Saturday 6th May.

The semi-finals will follow on Saturday 13th May and the final is due on Saturday 20th May.

The full draw for the competition from the second round onwards is as follows :

SECOND ROUND (6TH MAY)

Civil Service Strollers/Dalbeattie Star versus Hawick Royal Albert/Preston Athletic (Match 1)

Cumbernauld Colts/BSC Glasgow versus Gala Fairydean Rovers/Edinburgh University (Match 2)

East Kilbride/Spartans versus Selkirk/EAST STIRLINGSHIRE (Match 3)

Vale of Leithen/Stirling University versus Witheill Welfare/Gretna 2008 (Match 4)

SEMI-FINALS (13TH MAY)

Winners Match 1 versus Winners Match 2

Winners Match 4 versus Winners Match 3

Saturday’s Opponents – Dalbeattie Star

When Dalbeattie Star travelled to Ochilview for their Lowland League visit to Shire they sat in second place in the league table and their opponents were fourth.

Times have chanced and when John Sludden takes his team to Dumfriesshire this weekend it will be Shire who sit second. Star have moved outside the top four as well, although reclaiming that position will be their number one priority.

Our weekend hosts will not lack motivation – if they are to make the top four, and claim a place in next season’s IRN-BRU Cup, then Saturday’s game is one they simply have to win. They currently sit four points adrift of incumbents Stirling University with two games to play – the arithmetic is simple, fail to win and it will be a place outside the top four.

The Islecroft Stadium team had built their second place by November on the back of a very impressive first half of the Lowland League season in which they were in free-scoring form. The most notable win was 4-3 over Spartans which came in a real purple patch of wins.

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However, in the weeks running up to the Ochilview game there had been setbacks. They arrived having lost two in a row but their performance that day showed most of those present that they were one of the serious contenders.

Shire won the game 2-1 but only thanks to an Andy Rodgers penalty and a scrambled injury-time winner from Connor Greene and it remains one of the best displays by any visiting Lowland League teams against John Sludden’s side at Ochilview this season.

It was also their third league defeat on the bounce. However, Star picked themselves up to beat BSC Glasgow and followed that a week later with a win over Gala Fairydean Rovers to maintain their challenge. But suspensions and injuries took their toll in the coming weeks and they recorded just one win from their next seven league matches.

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With the new year resurgence of Shelley Kerr’s Stirling University side that left them out of the top four and with ground to make up.

One thing Star haven’t had to make up is games. They have been pretty much postponement-free compared to most clubs, although a catch-up home game against Whitehill Welfare recently made history as Star’s first competitive home game under newly-installed floodlights at Islecroft Stadium.

But that lack of postponements means Star have not played a competitive game since 25th March, a 2-1 home defeat against Edinburgh University, although they have been involved in some friendly games to keep in shape for Shire’s visit.

Shire’s first trip to Dalbeattie Star since a Scottish Cup-tie in 1998/99 season still promises to be a real competitive fixture. The players and coaches would appreciate as big a travelling support as possible. Contact Sandy Nimmo on 07803 708119 for transport details.

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Let’s End On A High – Coach

Coach John Sludden is urging his players to put the disappointment of cup semi-final defeat behind them as they prepare for this weekend’s penultimate Lowland League game of the season, when Shire travel to Dalbeattie Star on Saturday.

The players and coaches returned to training at Little Kerse on Tuesday evening, meeting up for the first time since last Friday night’s 3-2 SFA South Region Challenge Cup defeat against Cumbernauld Colts.

The gathering not only gave John and the players the opportunity to work on preparations for the trip to Islecroft Stadium but also was used by the coach to stress to the players that the final few matches of the season do have an importance.

Photo : Alan Murray, Falkirk Herald
Photo : Alan Murray, Falkirk Herald

“We have spoken about that and will do so again before Saturday,” said John. “There is still plenty to play for. There are two league games left and we want to win them both which, hopefully, will set us up nicely for the start of the League Cup.”

Shire will travel to play Selkirk on Saturday 29th April in the first round of this season’s Lowland League Cup competition. It is a straight knock-out played over four successive Saturdays with the final on 20th May. The coach has set his sights on Shire being in the big game.

“It’s a competition that we want to win,” he said “At the start of the season we said we wanted to win the league and the cup competitions as well. There is one last chance to get some silverware and I would hope that everyone at the club would want to get to the final.”

Photo : Alan, Murray, Falkirk Herald.
Photo : Alan, Murray, Falkirk Herald.

Before any of that, the team will face a tough Lowland League game away at Dalbeattie’s Islecroft Stadium on Saturday. The coach knows bringing back three points will be far from easy as Shire’s hosts will have plenty of motivation for wanting the win.

Star as still involved in a three-way battle for fourth place in this season’s Lowland League final table. Whoever occupies it will get entry into next season’s IRN-BRU Cup and the chance of meetings with teams from the SPFL.

Even without the incentive, the Shire coach would still expect a tough game.

“Every game we have played this season has been hard,” said John. “Wherever we have played teams have been  up for it and have wanted to beat us, simply because of the history of our club and where we have come from. So we know it will be difficult.”

Shire had a tough encounter already this season with Star in the reverse Lowland League fixture at Ochilview in November when an injury-time goal from Connor Greene was required to get a 2-1 win.

The coach will run the rule over his squad at training this week before settling on a starting eleven for the game. He has no injury worries for the trip, which will be Shire’s first to Islecroft Stadium since a 2-1 Scottish Cup victory in 1998/99 season.

John  and the players are hoping as many Shire fans as possible will be able to make the trip. The Supporters Club will be organising transport to Dalbeattie and if you want to go then contact Sandy Nimmo on 07803 708119. It would be great to see a big travelling support for this match.

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